Childhood asthma, also known as paediatric asthma, shares similarities with the lung disease that affects adults. However, it often presents with distinct symptoms in children.
When a child has asthma, their respiratory system can become easily inflamed, particularly when exposed to factors like cold weather or allergens such as pollen. These symptoms can significantly disrupt their daily activities and sleep patterns, and in some cases, lead to hospitalisation due to asthma attacks.
While there is no cure for childhood asthma, collaborating with your child's healthcare provider is essential for managing the condition and minimising potential damage to their developing lungs.
Asthma symptoms can vary from one child to another and may even change from episode to episode. Common signs and symptoms of childhood asthma include:
In the case of wheezing with shortness of breath or coughing in infants and toddlers, experts sometimes use the terms "reactive airway disease" and "bronchiolitis." Diagnosis of asthma in children under the age of 5 may be challenging using standard tests.
A severe asthma attack requires immediate medical attention. Watch for the following warning signs:
Common triggers for childhood asthma include:
When your child presents with asthma-like symptoms, a comprehensive evaluation by their doctor is crucial. The diagnosis typically involves:
Based on the severity of your child's asthma and their medical history, the doctor will formulate an asthma action plan. This plan outlines when and how to administer asthma medications, how to respond to worsening symptoms, and when to seek emergency care. It's crucial to fully comprehend this plan and address any questions or concerns with your child's healthcare provider.
The asthma action plan plays a pivotal role in managing your child's asthma. Keep a copy readily available to remind you of the daily management regimen and to guide you when your child experiences asthma symptoms. Share copies with caregivers, teachers, and anyone responsible for your child when they are away from home.
In addition to adhering to the asthma action plan, it's essential to minimise your child's exposure to asthma triggers whenever possible.
Most asthma medications suitable for adults and older children can be safely prescribed for toddlers and younger children. These drugs are administered in adjusted doses based on the child's age and weight. In the case of inhaled medications, a delivery device tailored to the child's age and ability may be necessary since many children cannot coordinate their breathing to use a standard inhaler effectively.
1. Quick-relief medications: which provide rapid relief during asthma attacks.
2. Long-acting medications: These help prevent airway inflammation and maintain control over asthma. These are typically taken daily.
For infants and older children displaying asthma symptoms that require bronchodilator medication treatment more than twice a week during the day or more than twice a month at night, healthcare providers often recommend daily anti-inflammatory medications.
Many asthma medications contain steroids, which may have potential side effects, including irritation of the mouth and throat. Some research indicates that prolonged use might impact growth, cause bone issues, and lead to cataracts. Nevertheless, untreated asthma can result in health complications and hospitalizations. Therefore, it's essential to engage in a thorough discussion with your healthcare provider to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of medication when creating an asthma action plan for your child.